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setting it home upon our minds. As he presents the truth to us, so he inclines us to receive it; and as he alone can reveal it, so he alone can work in us both to will and do according to it. Let not, therefore, the disputers of this world pride themselves in their natural knowledge, and set it up against the light of Scripture, for it is all blindness and folly; and if they would but once ask themselves whose mind it is they pretend to know, it would be enough to shame them into a confession of their ignorance. Neither let those who receive the Scripture think they have nothing to do but to work with it as well as they can in the use of their own understandings; for Christ, the sum and substance of it, will be therein preached and offered to them in vain, without divine illumination and inward teaching, to humble them, to convince them of their sin and weakness, and guide them to him, as “ the power of God, and the wisdom of
, God.” Let none plead against their own souls, that they cannot know, believe, and do what is required of them, when they have an almighty Spirit to enable them, nor charge God foolishly till they have tried what one prayer will do for them. Let the poor and unlearned, especially, be thankful that they have such a teacher and assistant in the Spirit of God, and know for their comfort that he can work as effectually in them, as easily bring them to Christ, and make them as wise for heaven, as any others. And let us all take the word of God for our rule, that we may know what we have to do, and how we must be saved; and then we shall pray to the Lord with our hearts, as we do with our lips, that, by his holy inspiration, we may think those things that be good, and, by his merciful guiding, may perform the same, through our Lord Jesus Christ.
For then would they not have ceased to be offered ? because
that the worshippers, once purged, should have had no more conscience of sins. Hebrews, x. 2.
The apostle is here drawing a comparison between the
I. The purification of the conscience from guilt and fear, through the efficacy of the sacrifice which Christ offered for sin upon the cross : and
II. The influence of this grand Gospel remedy upon the temper and conduct of all true believers.
I. We are to consider the purification of the conscience, &c. A guilty conscience is the source of all our misery; it poisons every comfort of life, fills us with tormenting fear, and keeps us at a distance from that God who is alone able to make us happy. Hence the first wish of an awakened sinner is to get rid of this load which oppresses him, and to recover the favour of God, which is better than life itself. Happy for him that the very relief he wants for his wounded conscience, is the great thing provided for him in the Gospel. He is there told that Christ hath suffered for sin, the just for the unjust, and, by the sacrifice of himself, made reconciliation for iniquity. He is assured that, upon his repentance and belief of the truth, all his sins, how many soever, are forgiven. This is the purging of the conscience, the perfecting and sanctifying so often mentioned in this epistle. This is what the same St. Paul calls“ holding faith and a good conscience,” 1 Tim. i. 19. And again,“ holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience,” iii. 9. We do this when, in the power of a true faith, we rejoice before God, that he laid on Christ the iniquity of us all; and so transferred the guilt and punishment thereof to him, that we are entirely and for ever released from that debt, may plead his sufferings on our behalf as full payment to justice, and our absolute discharge from condemnation. Thus the conscience becomes good and pure before God. Thus we are “made perfect, as pertaining to the conscience," Heb. ix. 9. Thus our conscience is “ purged from dead (deadly, damning) works,” ver. 14; and the “ heart is
sprinkled from an evil conscience,” x. 22. And thus hath Christ“ perfected for ever them that are sanctified," so that they have no more conscience of sins, no more dread of wrath, or of God's vengeance against them, than if an angel was to bring them a pardon under the broad seal of Heaven. The sin of their nature, and the sins of their lives, are clean wiped out of God's book ; every curse is removed from their souls and bodies; the sting of death is taken away ; every believer stands before God as a child of his family and kingdom, washed from all spot of sin in the blood of the holy Jesus, whom he puts on in his perfect righteousness, meritorious death, and joyful resurrection. What, my friends?
Is it so indeed, that there is now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus?" Rom. viji. 1. One sin lost Adam his paradise, brought a curse upon the earth, and death upon himself and all his posterity: is not only that sin forgiven to you and to me, if we are his people, but the countless sum of all our own personal transgressions, without exception? Does the Bible hold forth to us such unlooked for reconciliation, and is there such a remedy for undone, perishing creatures in all the riches of God's nature? Yes, blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! The incarnate God, the bleeding Saviour, the Lamb of God's providing, can answer all these questions, hard as they may seem; and when he cried out upon the cross - It is finished ! - the believing soul knows that all the guilt of his sin expired with that breath, and that the redemption of mankind from sin, death, and hell, was completed then and there upon Mount Calvary. The sword of God's justice was sheathed in the blood of his Son, never again to be drawn for vengeance against any who run into the arms of the Saviour ; and when the conscience is pained with a sense of guilt, it is authorized to appeal to that act, and
plead the blood of Christ for its cleansing. He bore the stroke in and for his people, and they in and with him, by divine appointment, and as members of his body; so that we that are his flock, suffered together with our Shepherd, paid the vast debt we owed, and by virtue of our union with him, and in God's account, are as clear and innocent as he is.
But, nevertheless, though it is so joyful an article of our faith, so peculiarly the grace of the new covenant, and the chief benefit we have by Christ, so necessary to our being Christians, and gives that ease and quiet to our minds which nothing else can; though it is a truth, of all others the most important, so often repeated and inculcated for our assurance, and stands so full to view in the words of the text, that the conscience, trusting in the sacrifice of Christ, is purged from its guilt, clear of sin in God's account, and may be as spotless in its own, as if sin had never been committed, yet it is difficult to bring this blessed truth and conscience together. Perhaps there is not any one point of our religion more unknown; or, if known, less enjoyed. For the foundation and chief corner-stone is still too generally rejected, as to its most important office of sustaining the weight of our salvation. The precious blood of atonement is slighted by some, greatly undervalued hy others, and even those who know its worth, do not trust in it enough, but suffer their fears to prevail against their belief, to damp their comfort, and hinder their progress.
How great is the number of those in all places, whose lives bear witness against them that they slight the blood of Christ, and though he calls them to wash and be clean, yet choose rather to wallow in the filth of sin, and continue loathsome spectacles in his sight, than to accept of mercy at his hands! Their sins cry